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“We’re experiencing tremendous adoption with Cloze. And I think the reason we have such high adoption is that agents can get a lot of benefit from just a minimum level of engagement, and that benefit just grows the more they use it. It’s really more a productivity tool than it is a traditional CRM.” – Rod Messick, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty has become a regional powerhouse by doubling down on one clear purpose: Helping their agents achieve their dreams. For years, that goal has been supported by offering a wide portfolio of tools and services, from comparative market analysis tools to seller reports, all designed to help get tasks off of agent plates so they can spend more time working with clients. The one exception? Customer relationship management (CRM) tools were never a part of the Homesale technology portfolio.
CEO Rod Messick admits, “I was kind of notorious for saying, ‘I don’t care what CRM an agent uses. It can be a shoebox with index cards in it as long as they use it.’”
Jen Jones, VP of Career Development at Homesale, explains further, “We’ve always felt so much upfront work and frustration about getting a CRM to do what you need it to do that we’ve never felt like we needed to offer one. Most of the CRMs out there require an agent to sit down and spend hours just doing the setup and importing their database and then additional hours organizing that database and telling the CRM what they wanted that CRM to tell them to do.”
Today, however, as Homesale works with its agents to adapt to a post-boom market, its leadership team is enthusiastically running training sessions and recommending Cloze to its agents. And while its 1200 agents still have the flexibility to use whichever CRM they want, approximately 40% of them have already switched to using Cloze, with more signing up all the time (more than double the average adoption rate of their other tools).
“The most exciting demo we’ve ever been on”
Given their past experiences with CRM tools, adding a CRM to the Homesale technology stack hadn’t really been a consideration. If anything, Jen’s team was getting feedback from agents that there were too many tools available, and they didn’t know what to use. The brokerage was investing heavily enabling their team, but seeing only 15-20% adoption of any given tool.
Rod continues, “Our agents were telling us, ‘We don’t need more stuff; we need more simplified stuff.’ That was a big reason for closely reviewing our tech stack: We wanted to invest in helping our agents and employees become more efficient.”
Jen remembers: “We had a solution for everything, but it was spread across too many platforms at the time, making it difficult for our agents to actually act on and complete activities. During training, we would have to tell them, ‘Okay, you need to log into this platform for this functionality and then this platform to do this other activity,” and then agents would need to update, maintain, and manage contacts in multiple systems.
Here’s how Jen remembers their first demonstration with Cloze:
Honestly, we were just blown away. When we saw the demo, we were just sitting there going, ‘Oh my goodness, we have never seen a CRM that works the way that Cloze does.’”
“Cloze actually works the way the agent works,” continues Jen. “The agent does a quick setup, connects accounts, and then the agent just works normally. They start making calls; they text; they email; they communicate and schedule appointments. And Cloze just looks at all of that activity and makes recommendations on what to do next.”
A “natural” workflow that doesn’t change how agents work
Following the demo, Jen and her team were suddenly reconsidering what a CRM could do — not only fill the need of a CRM but actually create so much more potential value because of how it aligns with how agents do business. Agent experiences have proven them right.
Within weeks of going live, agents were telling Jen and her team how Cloze was making things easier for them. They were getting feedback such as, “This is helping me catch emails;” “I would’ve missed a reachout to a client that I had lost track of;” “It’s helping me stay connected to people that would have slipped through the cracks.”
It didn’t feel like any of the other things we’ve implemented,” recalls Jen. The biggest thing is just the overwhelming positive feedback.”
Jen credits a number of things with driving their “tremendous” adoption. The first is Cloze’s mobile-first approach.
Rod explains, “We wanted to try to focus on things that really help our agents be more productive in their day-to-day practices and focus on the device that is paramount in every agent’s life: their smartphone.”
One of the biggest advantages the Homesale team found with Cloze was that all of the functionality they needed was in one app that could be used on a phone, tablet, or laptop without any loss of functionality.
In contrast to what Jen describes as other CRMs that try to retrofit phone interaction into a desktop application, Jen describes Cloze as being “mobile-first,” and “just innately connected in a way that nothing else really has before.” Often other applications require a third-party phone number rather than their cell number to try to log calls, forcing agents to change natural and efficient communication flows.
“There’s no additional phone number that you have to try to explain or get people to save and recognize,” points out Jen.
Cloze is just reading and synching your calls and texts, and logging all of that activity for you. There’s no need to remember that you haven’t talked to this person for a while—it just tells you to keep in touch and then logs when you do.”
Orienting technology around efficiency, effectiveness, and Ninja Selling
One of the areas Homesale has invested in was Ninja Selling. Prior to deploying Cloze, Jen would sit in training sessions and try to coach her team in all the different solutions they had for the different Ninja practices. But that was the problem: While Homesale had functionality available for everything, it was a different solution for each activity.
Jen remembers feeling “a little bit guilty” about having to tell their agents, “Okay, you need to log into this platform for this functionality and then go into this platform to do this other activity they’re recommending, all while knowing it would mean they’d have to update, maintain, and manage contacts in multiple systems.”
What’s worse, is that that takes away time those agents could spend being out in the field with their clients. In contrast, the Ninja installation they completed after rolling out Cloze was much more streamlined. “It was definitely more exciting to be able to say to our Ninja trainer, ‘Hey, we have Cloze. So as you touch on all these activities and best practices, you can just reiterate that they can just use Cloze for all of them. Cloze makes it easy to do all that follow-up and all those touches because they can access and use all those things that are being recommended in one place.”
Agents that come out of the more recent installations simply have to “log in, look at the agenda, and execute exactly what they are instructed to do.”
Rod agrees, pointing to Cloze’s automation, “Part of what Ninja tells you to do is to spend a certain amount of time updating your CRM per week. [Cloze can] automate out a lot of that busy work, and agents get that time back.” As a result, instead of “copying and pasting text messages into my CRM because it doesn’t talk to my phone,” agents can spend more time actually making their hot list and warm list calls, developing relationships, and keeping clients close.
A powerful weapon for growing the firm
In his time in the industry, Rod’s seen a lot of agents with different degrees of success. He says, “Most go about business by accident. They’re not deliberate in the way they approach business, and a lot of their success happens by luck. The reality is that a lot of people can drive a pretty high degree of success by accident. So I’ve always said that just by using some kind of system or too, you can get an improvement of over 80% of your peers. Just think what you can do with a best-in-class system.”
“We’ve fully embraced Cloze as our CRM and see its impact daily. It’s part of our new agent training. And the more people use it, the higher the productivity is going to go. With other CRMs, other tools, you have to put in a lot of effort to get a mimimum amount of value out. Nothing else escalates and leverages your return the way that I feel Cloze has done for us. And honestly, the embracement of our agents shows that others think that too.”